African parliamentarians support ICPD review report outcomes and inclusion of common African position in post-2015 development agenda

3 April 2014
Ivorian Speaker Mr Soro and APF president Dr Baryomunsi surrounded by African parliamentarians Photo:

Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire – Some one hundred African parliamentarians from about 40 countries averred in the "Declaration of Abidjan " that the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and its integration into the post 2015 global development agenda are essential to eradicating extreme poverty and achieving sustainable development.

The parliamentarians pledged to support the ICPD beyond 2014 global report and to take legislative measures for the implementation of the main findings of the report in their respective countries, especially in terms of dignity and rights human, health including universal access to sexual and reproductive health services, residence and mobility, governance and data.

They also pledged to use the Common African Position on the post-2015 Development Agenda to speak with one voice and act in unity to ensure that Africa’s voice is heard and fully integrated into the global development agenda.

Burundi’s Joselyne Gahimbare read out the “Abidjan Declaration” at the closing of the second general assembly of the Forum of African Parliamentarians on Population and Development (APF) held in Abidjan from 16th to 19thMarch 2014.

At the opening of the meeting, the Ivorian Minister of Planning and Development Mr. Albert Mabri Toikeusse called for a general consensus on issues related to population. “In 1994 in Cairo, African states pledged to implement reforms and programmes in order to achieve economic growth taking into account all demographic variables. Progress has been made, but much remains to be done. We must continue our tireless efforts and keep ICPD commitments in the implementation of action plans after 2014."

"We must support the realization of the demographic dividend in African countries in order to obtain a larger workforce. This should be done on the basis of updated and reliable statistics; this is why the Government has just started the 4th Population and Housing General Census to have updated figures on the characteristics of our population," he continued.

For his part, APF President Dr Chris Baryomunsi from Uganda said the primary responsibility of the representatives of the people is to determine the future of the people because their decisions contribute to creating the conditions necessary to protect dignity and human rights "…We will ensure that the commitment and political will to population and development are a reality in Africa," he assured. 

Throughout their meeting, the Parliamentarians addressed issues related to the life of the relatively new Forum by adopting its constitution, renewing the executive committee with Chris Baryomunsi as President and Mrs. Marie -Rose Nguini Effa of Cameroon as the Vice-President. All sub-regions are represented in the executive committee: Cote d’Ivoire and Cape Verde for West Africa; Swaziland and Zambia for Southern Africa; Tanzania and Uganda for Eastern Africa; and Cameroon and Chad for Central Africa.

The representatives also strengthened their capacity and exchanged on leadership and management; the process of the ICPD beyond 2014 including the outcomes of the implementation’s global review and the Common African Position on the post- 2015 development agenda; experience of the Forum of European parliamentarians on Population and Development (EPF) represented by its President Baroness Jenny Tonge; advocacy tools in the context of the ICPD beyond 2014 and the post- 2015development agenda.

Parliamentarians said they are better equipped to participate in the 6th International Conference of Parliamentarians on ICPD in Stockholm from 23th to 25th April 2014 and get involved in the ongoing ICPD beyond 2014 process and the post-2015 development agenda.

On behalf of the UNFPA (United Nations population Fund), Mr. Constant-Serge Bounda head of the UNFPA liaison office to the African Union, called on Mr Soro to support the “Abidjan Declaration” to position the aspirations of the continent at global level and maintain population and development issues at the heart of national, regional and global concerns.

"This forum produced a strong statement that reflects your ambition to fly the flag of the continent on such important issues as the ICPD post 2014 agenda and the post-2015 development agenda. Africa has the means of its policy with the Addis Ababa Declaration on Population and Development and the Common African Position on the post-2015 agenda adopted by our Heads of State that we all speak with a single and strong voice,” he said.

Mr. Bounda added that none of "our wives, sisters, daughters should die giving life. It is a moral imperative for all and we count on your strong voice and actions for human development and social and economic well-being become a tangible reality on our continent."

The Regional Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation IPPF/Africa, Mr. Lucien Kouakou, welcomed the success of the meeting and urged parliamentarians to establish national forums. "What would a regional forum be when there are no national forums that work at grassroots level?" he asked.

At the request of legislators, Ivorian Speaker Mr. Guillaume Soro, who chaired the closing ceremony, has agreed to be the APF ambassador. "The Forum, we all agree, is a platform for exchange and sharing of experiences which helps to strengthen membership, mobilization and active participation of Parliamentarians in the process of economic and social development of their countries,” he said.

 "I am particularly pleased that African parliamentarians chose to have a common position for the upcoming negotiations on the International Conference on Population and Development beyond 2014 and the post2015 Development agenda," he said.

The second APFPD general assembly was also an opportunity to officially launch the Ivorian Parliamentarians Network on Population and Development chaired by MP Mariame Traoré.

Established in Johannesburg in December 2012, the APF works to promote the ICPD Programme of Action and population and development issues in general. It replaces the Forum of African and Arab Parliamentarians for Population and Development (FAAPPD) created in 1997 and dissolved for lack of results during the Istanbul 2012 International conference of Parliamentarians to make way for an African forum (SSA) and a forum of Arab States.

As a reminder, five other regional parliamentary forums are in place, namely AFPPD in Asia, the EPF in Europe, the IAPG in Americas and FAPPD for the Arab States.

The Abidjan general assembly was organized with the technical and financial support from UNFPA - and logistical and technical support from its partner IPPF. The Japanese government provided financial support to parliamentary forums through UNFPA.